A decision reached by U.S. Catholic bishops last week on how to implement Pope John Paul II’s 1990 degree, “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” was supported by the Rev. Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas. He observed, however, that questions remain on how those new norms will be implemented.

The bishops voted 223-31 in Washington last Wednesday, Nov. 17, to approve new rules that address Catholic higher education in the United States. The rules now go to the Vatican for ratification; they will go into effect one year after their expected approved in Rome.

Dease said in a statement last week that it was too early to offer highly specific comments on the bishops’ decision because he had not yet had the opportunity to view the document.

He did offer these preliminary observations on the bishops’ landmark decision:

“Pope John Paul’s Apostolic Constitution, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, provides helpful guidance for Catholic colleges and universities. We at St. Thomas share the enthusiasm expressed by the vast majority of presidents of Catholic colleges and universities for this papal document published in 1990.

“We share the bishops’ desire to implement the general norms of Ex Corde Ecclesiae.

“We have found the structured dialogues which we have had with Archbishop Harry Flynn and other bishops of this archdiocese and ecclesiastical province (Minnesota and the Dakotas) to be invaluable.

“Because the process of clarification is not yet complete, we look forward to continued dialogues between bishops and college and university presidents. There are still a number of questions that must be resolved on how best to implement the norms.

“The University of St. Thomas will continue to work to keep its Catholic identity strong, while at the same time maintaining the institutional autonomy and academic freedom that are guaranteed by Ex Corde itself.

“We look forward to continuing to work with our bishops to find the most suitable ways to implement the new national norms.”


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